Reuters reports that France is sending “special forces and equipment” to Niger to protect uranium mines operated by French state-owned nuclear giant Areva:
“Areva has been mining uranium in Niger for more than five decades and provides much of the raw materials that power France’s nuclear power industry, the source of 75 percent of the country’s electricity.
The military source confirmed a report in weekly magazine Le Point that special forces and equipment would be sent to Areva’s uranium production sites in Imouraren and Arlit, but declined to go into further details.”
Mali blue helmets
Foreign Policy reports that US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has “quietly floated” the idea of a UN peacekeeping force in Mali once France’s military offensive ends:
“Rice made the remarks in a closed-door session of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday evening, though she noted that the Obama administration had not yet officially decided to back a force of blue helmets.
Rice said that the original U.N. plan — which envisioned the Malian army as the ‘tip of the spear’ in a military offensive against the Islamists — is no longer viable, according to an official present at the meeting. She said the mission would likely shift from a combat mission to a stabilization mission, requiring a long-term strategy to hold territory and build up local institutions. French combat forces are unlikely to remain in Mali to do that job. ‘We need to be open to a blue-helmeted operation,’ she said, according to another official at the meeting.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that the past few days have seen a “significant escalation” of US drone strikes in Yemen:
“The flurry of strikes in Yemen comes as the administration is considering codifying a set of procedures and policies governing how targeted killings are carried out — how militants are added to kill lists, who reviews the evidence and which government agencies get a say. The so-called counter-terrorism playbook is not yet complete, an official said this week.
It is impossible to verify whether all those killed were Al Qaeda militants, as some news reports from the region have suggested.”
The UN is calling for an end to practices – by consumers, retailers and governments – that lead to a third of the world’s food being wasted:
“ ‘In industrialized regions, almost half of the total food squandered, around 300 million tons annually, occurs because producers, retailers and consumers discard food that is still fit for consumption,’ said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva. ‘This is more than the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa, and would be sufficient to feed the estimated 870 million people hungry in the world.’
In Europe and North America, the average waste per consumer is between 95 and 115 kilograms per year, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, south and Southeast Asia each throw away only six to 11 kilograms annually.”
Survival International is celebrating an Indian Supreme Court order banning tourists from a road that cuts through a tribal reserve in the Andaman Islands:
“Survival has been campaigning for many years for the road through the Jarawa tribe’s reserve to be closed. It first alerted the world that tour operators were treating the Jarawa like animals in a zoo in 2010. Survival, and Andaman organization Search, had called for tourists to boycott the road.
The latest court order comes a year after the world was shocked by an international exposé of Jarawa women being forced to dance in exchange for food.”
Inter Press Service reports that environmentalists are looking to US President Barack Obama’s handling of the country’s coal reserves as a test of the commitment to tackling climate change he expressed in his inauguration speech:
“ ‘The big story out of the United States is the expansion of the country’s coal export – this is the biggest domestic threat to the climate,’ Kelly Mitchell, a campaigner with Greenpeace, an environment watchdog, told IPS.
‘Contrasted with the country’s great successes over the last couple of years in moving away from coal use, we’re now seeing risk of those emissions moving offshore.’
‘There is a little hypocrisy in this situation. The U.S. is moving forward to reduce emissions while at the same time the federal government is allowing a huge uptick in exports. That means we’re not living up to our responsibility to address the climate problem.’ ”
Former NATO secretary general Javier Solana and the Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer lay out the two principal reasons they fear the prospect of “attacks in cyberspace” between nations in the years ahead:
“ First, unlike the structure of Cold War-era ‘mutually assured destruction,’ cyber weapons offer those who use them an opportunity to strike anonymously. Second, constant changes in technology ensure that no government can know how much damage its cyber-weapons can do or how well its deterrence will work until they use them.
As a result, governments now probe one another’s defenses every day, increasing the risk of accidental hostilities. If John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are confirmed as US secretaries of state and defense, respectively, the Obama administration will feature two prominent skeptics of military intervention. But high levels of US investment in drones, cyber-tools, and other unconventional weaponry will most likely be maintained.”
The Guardian reports that the CEO of the world’s second-biggest brewing company has argued that “business can fix” Africa’s problems, a view not shared by everyone in the audience:
“Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at a session called De-Risking Africa, alongside the Nigerian and South African presidents, [SABMiller’s Graham] Mackay insisted that throwing the continent’s markets open to more investment would boost growth.
‘Trust in economic growth to solve the problems of the continent,’ Mackay said. ‘Economic growth comes from the private sector: business will fix it, if it’s allowed to.’
But Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, stressed that Africans had to trust themselves – not outsiders – to solve their problems. Speaking from the audience, he said: ‘For me, the major problem I see is that Africa’s story is written from somewhere else, and not by Africans themselves.’ ”